Play enables your baby to learn about the world around her. In her first year your baby uses all of her five senses to discover and explore and play is at the heart of this exploration and development. As your baby turns into a toddler and then a young child, her play gradually becomes more complex and imaginative.
Below are the different types of play you should encourage your baby to do at the various stages of this fascinating stage of your child’s life.
From about four months until 10 months your baby will insist on touching, licking, chewing, throwing, banging and pushing every object that lies in her path. Let her, as long as the object is not dangerous or unhygienic in anyway. Babies this young learn by feeling and experimenting with different objects so encourage your little one by giving her different toys and objects to play with.
At approximately three months your baby will start to copy the things you do such as smiling, looking and laughing. It is important to encourage this social play by regularly putting your face close to your baby’s and smiling, laughing and talking to her. As your baby gets a little older at around eight months, she will enjoy social games such as peekaboo, round the garden went the teddy bear and itsy-bitsy spider.
From around 12 months to two years your baby’s imagination will be developing, and she will enjoy and learn from representational play, such as pretending the hairbrush is a phone or pushing a toy vacuum cleaner over the carpet.
At around two years your baby will enjoy practising symbolic play. Encourage your child to enjoy this imaginative stage of her development by instigating symbolic play, such as pretending a shoe box is a bus or a baby walker is a shopping trolley.
From two years onwards children generally love to do role plays. Role plays help develop a child’s imagination, emotional and social growth. Encourage your child by acting out different roles such as doctor and nurses, teacher and pupils and mummy and baby.